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Last month I decided that it would be a good idea to take some training courses in order to demonstrate that I was being a good accountant and keeping up with my "Continuing Professional Development". Something we accountants have to do. A few hours later I was booked on a two and a half day residential course which was to be held in the Cotswold Water Park Hotel, part of the Four Pillars Hotel chain.
My hotel accommodation was booked by the course organisers and included in the course fee paid. However I decided to arrive the day before in order to avoid a very early start on the first morning of the course. The hotel website was offering rooms for £80 a night but before booking I called to see if there was a better delegate rate available. I was surprised to find that delegates were being offered additional nights for £115, however I mentioned I had seen £80 on their website and they agreed to match it.
The hotel is quite new and the website warns that its postcode is not recognised by some satellite navigation systems, however it was extremely easy to find. It is 20 minutes from Junction 15 of the M4 and situated just set back from a main road. When I arrived I found there to be plenty of parking space and was soon parked up and heading into reception. The lobby was large, fresh and modern as I had expected in a new hotel. It was also open plan to a fairly large bar area and the restaurant was just off to
one side as well. I was checked in reasonably quickly and provided with directions to my room on the first floor.
I was pleased with the room that was to be my home for three nights. The first thing I noticed was the large French windows overlooking the lake, it appeared that many rooms would enjoy similar views as the hotel is long and narrow and there were rooms on the opposite bank as well. The room itself was above average in size and the bright and airy feel from downstairs continued in here. The decor was in shades of beige and chocolate and the bedding was fresh, white cotton. As well as the double bed, the room had a sofa and coffee table, a desk and a clothes hanging area which on one side had a pull out tray containing a kettle and a generous supply of tea, coffees and hot chocolate sachets. The TV was a wall mounted flat screen and had a decent selection of channels, not just the five basic ones. Although the hotel claims there is free wireless internet access in every room, this is not true. The free wireless access is only available in public areas of the hotel, in the bedrooms you need to plug in. There is not a great deal to say about the bathroom, it was white, modern and in good condition as one would expect from a new hotel. The shower was over the bath and the towels were still fluffy.
Breakfast was included in my room rate and was served in the restaurant just off reception. However I was stocked up with fruit and cereal bars and decided to forego breakfast in favour of a longer lie in. I did take my lunch each day in this restaurant and considering the catering was for a good 150 delegates if not more, the food was pretty good. It was a self service hot buffet and I opted for roast salmon and vegetables one day and vegetarian lasagne the next. I resisted the delicious looking cheesecake afterwards and just had coffee which was served at the table. In the evenings dinner was laid on for delegates in one of the private dining rooms. I really didn't feel the need to dine with hundreds of accountants I had never met before and opted for room service and Eastenders instead. It was a good option, quick service and tasty food.
The hotel has a gym and swimming pool, but I did not use either despite my good intentions beforehand. There is also a spa and a reasonable range of treatments, although they were slightly more expensive than I had expected. The hotel literature also boasts of large grounds and offers activities such as horse riding, cycling and various water sports.
But my reason for being here was a conference and there was no time for these things. The conference rooms were on the first floor, it appeared that delegates had been placed in the bedrooms nearest to the conferences rooms, well certainly I had been, which meant it was convenient and easy to pop back during short breaks between sessions. We had taken over three large conference rooms as three lectures were taking place simultaneously and delegates opted for whichever one was most interesting or relevant to them. I was in each of the rooms at some point and they were similar in size and layout. Most importantly the rooms were large, well ventilated and the temperature was comfortable. The last thing one wants is eight hours of accountancy lectures in a stuffy room. The tables were laid out in long rows, covered with white table clothes and there were supplies of mints, water and pens and pads every two or three seats. The chairs themselves were well spaced out but as the rooms were below capacity it was easy to spread out anyway.
At the start of the day and between sessions refreshments were served in a break out area just outside. Everything happened on time and to plan and the stocks inside the meetings rooms were replenished regularly. Overall organisation was very good, this would be only partly due to the accountancy body host but certainly the hotel played the largest part.
I had an extremely pleasant and comfortable stay in this hotel and cannot find any fault. That said, I would hesitate to book it for a leisure break as if I were going to the Cotswolds for the weekend, I would probably prefer to stay somewhere smaller and with more character. I would not rule it out though, it is in a good location and if the price were right I would certainly consider it. On the other hand, as a conference hotel it was superb and I have rated it in the context of that, my own experience.
http://www.cotswoldwaterparkhotel.co.uk/ Cotswold Water Park Four Pillars Hotel Lake 6 Spine Road East South Cerney Gloucestershire GL7 5FP